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Presentations

Click the name of one of the presenters from the list below to access their abstract and an .mp3 recording of their presentation. To start the audio, click the play button below the abstract.

On Silence
Atwood, Margaret



Historical instances of silence and silencing by governments and the contemporary tendencies in that direction now set in motion inside Canada.

The Conservative Remake of Canada: Americanization or Home-grown?
McDonald, Marci; Laird, Gordon

Can Canada maintain a separate existence in North America if it shares the American ethos? If not, what is Canada's unique ethos in the 21st century? Is Canada being remade in the image of US Christian conservatism or the macho, free-enterprise image of conservative Alberta? Or both? In her controversial new book, The Armageddon Factor: the Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, Marci McDonald tracks the emergence of a new religious right in this country—one with close ties to the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. Here, she will expand on that theme, showing how a handful of conservative Christian think tanks and lobby groups have put down organizational roots in Ottawa and are already exerting an influence over public policy, steering the country toward a socially conservative agenda both at home and on the international stage.

Cultivating those forces as his party's new base, Harper has already begun to stack the federal courts and civil service with social and religious conservatives who are also exerting their influence on a raft of policies from education and social welfare programs to the philosophy of crime and punishment. In response to those critics who say a religious right could never take root in this country, McDonald points out that she heard exactly the same disclaimers from American liberals and pundits in Washington years ago. Now, as the U.S. religious right has fed the vitriolic Tea Party movement, she argues that it's time for Canadians to open a debate about the level of religiosity they want in their own politics and government.

Gross Exports: Canada in the International Community
Kilgour, David; Paley, Dawn

Canada's international role is in flux. Canadians used to be proud of themselves as a country of peacekeepers. Now we are now known for our combat role, and even complicity in torture, in Afghanistan. We no longer act as UN peacekeepers. Does Canada stand for development, sovereign equality, and democracy of the people, or for the actions of its transnational mining corporations in exploiting the Global South?

En Solidaire
Khadir, Amir; Breton, Daniel

Does Canada work well to support social and environmental justice among its diverse nations? Can 'progressives' unite across the Quebec - English speaking Canada divide? What can we learn from each other and how can we make common cause? We hear from two leading Quebec 'progressives'.

Big Brother Still
Laxer, Gordon

Canada now has a corporate and political elite that does not want a country with an ethos that is distinct from the American one. Canada's climate change policy is wait and see what the US does. It's military, economic, prison and torture polices also 'follow the leader'. What are the challenges to Canadians' popular, national sovereignty in the Obama era?

The Trouble with Billionaires
McQuaig, Linda

In the last few decades, the concentration of income in the United States, Britain and Canada has reached levels not seen since the late 1920s. Such extreme income concentration created a dynamic that led to the disastrous Wall Street crash in 2008 - just as it did in 1929. The financial collapse is simply the most striking example of the problems caused by the rise of a new class of billionaires. Their massive fortunes - widely considered benign or even beneficial to society—are actually detrimental to everyone else.

The glittering lives of the new super-rich may seem like harmless sources of entertainment. But such concentrated economic power reverberates throughout society, threatening the quality of life and the very functioning of democracy. It's no accident that the United States claims the most billionaires-but suffers from among the highest rates of infant mortality and crime, the shortest life expectancy, as well as the lowest rates of social mobility and electoral political participation in the developed world. Our society sees itself as a meritocracy.

So we tend to regard large fortunes as evidence of great talent or accomplishment. Yet the vast new wealth isn't due to an increase in talent or effort at the top, but rather to changing social attitudes legitimizing greed and to policy changes made by governments under pressure from the new elite.

Indigenizing Canada
Laboucan-Massimo, Melina; Green, Joyce

Bringing First Nations, Metis and Inuit from the periphery to the centre of a new Canada. How to go even beyond that by remaking Canada into a country where native values and perceptions become mainstream and substantially define the new Canada.

Changing the Mosaic

Is the 'reasonable accommodation' of minorities replacing the celebration of diversity? How can we instead deepen diversity to construct new forms of Canadianism that integrate new 'memories and histories' from distant lands embodied in the over 200,000 people that make their new homes in our neighbourhoods each year.

Worth Fighting for Social Justice and the Value of Public Services

Medicare and the providing for Canadians regardless of income used to be a popular symbol of what it means to be Canadian. That vision came under attack in the as privatizers tried to convince Canadians to look after themselves, not others. How can 'progressives' re-write the national vision of a caring and sharing Canada for the 21st century?

The Beauty of Struggle and the Struggle for Beauty
Clarke, George Elliott

Where we go from here. George Elliott Clarke shares new visions for Canada.

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